Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

My mother-in-law Judie made this for dinner once and I really liked it. Which kind of surprised me, because after years of being a vegetarian, the only other pork tenderloin I ever had was awful. After that, I just assumed it was pork tenderloin that sucked. Turns out it was just the recipe - or the chef - or maybe both (I won't mention any names). Now that I've had a few pork tenderloins, I think the biggest key to success is not drying it out. I found a method that claims to make the perfect pork tenderloin every time. So I used the marinade and sauce from this recipe, but I used the technique from the one below it. And I'll be damned if it wasn't the perfect pork tenderloin!

Serves 8

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 ½ to 3 lb. pork tenderloin

1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dry mustard (or to taste)
2 scallions, finely chopped 

1.      Mix marinade ingredients in a gallon size ziploc bag. Add pork and marinate for several hours, turning occasionally.
2.      Preheat oven to 325º F.
3.      Remove pork from marinade and bake in a roasting pan for 1 hour, basting occasionally with marinade.
4.      While the pork cooks, mix together the sauce ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
5.      When ready, remove the pork from the oven. Let rest for 5 minutes; carve into thin slices and serve with sauce.

slightly adapted from Virginia Hospitality by the Junior League of Hampton Roads, Inc.


1 boneless pork tenderloin (or boneless pork loin)
salt and pepper (or dry seasoning or marinade of choice)

1.      Determine the EXACT weight of roast from the meat wrapper. Weight will determine how long to cook the roast.
2.      Preheat oven to 500-550º F. Remove tenderloin from refrigerator. Season meat as desired. Place seasoned meat in an uncovered roasting pan.
3.      Bake EXACTLY 5 1/2 minutes PER POUND. Adjust +/- according to your oven's accuracy and heat retention. Turn oven OFF and DO NOT open oven door for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes to redistribute internal juices. Roast will be done, very slightly pink in the center, and very moist.

-        The success of this cooking method will depend upon how accurate the temperature of your oven is and how well your oven retains heat. Adjust cooking time +/- according your individual oven.
-        For anyone questioning this method of cooking, it really does reach the proper internal temperature on a thermometer. If you have an oven probe or a thermometer that has a wire that goes through the side of the oven door, by all means use it and set alarm for 140-145 º F. It should go off before the hour is up. After resting 5-10 minutes, the roast should reach 145-150º F. According to Sara Moulton on FoodTV, salmonella is killed at 138º F, and 145º F is a safe temperature for pork, although the USDA recommends 160º F. (meat will be drier).
-        Cooking time is the same if you’re cooking more than one pork tenderloin. Just make sure the tenderloins are NOT TOUCHING each other so they are each cooking in their own separate space.

To make roasted vegetables along with the tenderloin, peel carrots and potatoes, and cut into about 1-inch cubes. Season as desired and drizzle with a little oil. Add vegetables to pan around (but NOT touching) pork tenderloin. Cook tenderloin as instructed above. The roasted potatoes and carrots should be done when the roast is done. You may need to adjust the size of the potatoes and carrots depending upon the weight of your tenderloin and how long you cook it.

from (submitted by BeachGirl)

adding bourbon to marinade
marinade (putting the bag in a glass
helps hold it up if you're by yourself)
pork tenderloin marinating
raw, marinated pork tenderloin

I decided to put it on a rack, just
to make sure it would cook evenly.
roasted pork tenderloin

My pork tenderloin was small (just under a pound), so
I cooked it for only 5 minutes before turning the oven off.

The only drawback of using this cooking method
is you don't get to baste the pork with the marinade.
sliced pork tenderloin (juicy)
mixing the mustard sauce

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Curry Puffs

There's a Thai restaurant near my office called Rhong-Tiam. Their food is really good and they even use organic chicken and grass-fed, hormone-free beef. Plus they deliver! So every once in a while I indulge and have their curry puffs for lunch. They're so delicious, I like to get an extra order and bring them home to heat up the next day. Now don't get too excited, because this isn't their recipe. I just made this one up in an attempt to recreate something similar (only my version is vegetarian). I can't claim mine rival Rhong-Tiam's, but I liked them a lot and if I didn't live or work anywhere near Rhong-Tiam, I'd totally make them again (of course I don't have to, so I'll probably just pick up the phone and dial).

Yield: 18

1 large Yukon Gold potato (or 2 small)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sugar or palm sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (or black pepper to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 (17.3 oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 egg, beaten (optional)

1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar (optional, for dipping)

1.      Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Peel the potato and chop into large chunks. Boil until easily pierced with a fork (but not falling apart). Drain and rinse under cold water. Once cool enough to handle, dice and set aside.
2.      Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder, chili powder and turmeric and cook for 1 more minute.
3.      Add the diced potato, sugar, pepper and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Set aside to cool.
4.      Heat oven to 400º F.
5.      Roll the puff pastry dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 3-inch rounds.
6.      Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Fold the pastry over to form a half circle. Crimp the edges together with a fork.
7.      Brush lightly with egg wash (optional – it just makes the pastry shinier) and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
8.      Serve puffs warm with rice wine vinegar for dipping (if desired).

raw red onions
adding garlic and ginger to cooked red onions
adding spices
spices mixed in
adding potatoes, sugar, salt and pepper
filling mixed
cutting rounds from rolled dough
filling on dough
folding over & sealing dough
crimping with a fork
brushing with egg
raw curry puffs
baked curry puffs
more baked curry puffs, without
egg wash (you can see they're duller)
curry puff up close

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs

Here's a great technique for roasted chicken that ensures a nice, crispy skin every time (and the inside stays juicy too). That's really all there is to say. You can't ask for much more than that in your roasted chicken. Serving suggestion: we slathered ours with harissa. Then the next day I polished off the rest of the harissa by scooping it up with crackers like it was dip. That stuff is the crack of condiments.

2 to 4 main course servings

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1.      Preheat oven to 475° F.
2.      Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12" cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
3.      Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.
4.      Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

from Bon Appétit, June 2011
raw chicken thighs seasoned with salt & pepper
chicken in the pan, skin side down
golden brown (after 12 minutes)
after cooking in the oven for 13 minutes
up close
perfect pan-roasted chicken thighs
just look at that crispy skin